Post-voluntary attention

Attention is needed in everyday life at every step. In different situations, it is activated and directed to a particular object. This property allows us to select the necessary and important information for us. But reacting to different things and situations, we do not think about the fact that there are several types of attention. The post-voluntary, along with the voluntary and involuntary, is of considerable interest.

What it is?

Each type of attention has its own degree of activity. Therefore, there are three types.

The definition in psychology is that post-voluntary attention is such a state of a person when he is completely focused on a particular subject. But this is given to him very easily, without effort, and the result is the knowledge gained, which is firmly stored in memory.

In other words, this is the state when there is a stable motivation for something. Therefore, all forces are directed towards achieving the goal, everything is given easily, even fatigue is not felt during prolonged mental work.

This is just the kind of concentration that a schoolboy or student needs to brilliantly study subjects. Parents and teachers strive to ensure that children have exactly the kind of attention that will allow them to absorb the material well and study well. But for adults, it is quite useful, because it allows you to learn a large amount of necessary information.


According to Leontiev (a psychologist who spent a lot of time studying all three types) post-voluntary attention is a natural process based on voluntary attention. Both types are based on interest in the subject. But the interest in the first and second cases is slightly different.


In the post-voluntary, a person’s interest in the result, which will be obtained as a result of the activity performed, is connected.


Comparison with other types of attention


If we compare post-voluntary attention (it is also post-voluntary) with the other two, then we can find that this type differs from involuntary, but is similar to voluntary.

Involuntary attention arises without any effort, it is not associated with any specific actions and efforts, but arises as a reaction to everything that surrounds us. In other words, we pay attention to some objects and phenomena.

But arbitrary and post-voluntary are already those types that are “turned on” by the will of a person, based on his choice.

Let’s take a closer look at all three varieties to understand what their differences are.

  • Involuntary attention does not depend on our desires. It can be, for example, the roar of thunder, the bright light of the headlights of a car, the sudden smell of burning or freshly baked bread. Involuntary attention captures unexpected events that may be important to us. In all these cases, the situation that arises in the outside world is beyond our control. On the contrary, we are dependent on it. Involuntary attention is also inherent in animals, their reaction to external stimuli is its manifestation. The peculiarity of human attention is that people can control it, unlike animals.
  • Arbitrary attention is fundamentally different from the previous type. We set a goal for ourselves, we are going to solve a certain problem and direct arbitrary attention to this, completely focusing on the object. This type is not inherent in us initially, it must be developed independently. Parents begin to teach this to the child from childhood, and then teachers. An example is a situation where you need to perform some action that does not cause much enthusiasm. The performance of these actions is due to necessity.
  • The post-voluntary also occurs due to the efforts of man, and in this it is similar to the voluntary. But it differs in that post-voluntary attention is not just a person’s concentration on any activity, because it is necessary, it is already an interest in it. He is also interested in the end result, but the process itself begins to captivate and give pleasure. After-voluntary attention lasts much longer than other types and gives the best result. This can be compared to when a person devoted his life to his favorite business and does it with pleasure.


Thus, all three types have their similarities and differences, but it is quite simple to distinguish between them.


It also becomes obvious that voluntary attention can easily turn into post-voluntary.


Overview of examples


Illustrative examples will help to understand how post-voluntary attention actually manifests itself, as well as how it follows from arbitrary attention.

  • If, for example, inspiration has come to an artist, he prepares a canvas, easel, brushes, paints and starts working in the studio or goes to the open air, where he plans to make sketches for future paintings — this is just after arbitrary attention. In this case, a person is engaged in activities that captivate him and give pleasure.
  • Another variant. A woman is going to surprise her family by cooking some delicious dish. She does it with her soul, she likes the process itself, and she is interested in the result of her work. A woman studies the recipe, prepares the ingredients, creates a delicious dish. This is a job she enjoys. She does not force herself to focus on it, everything happens by itself.
  • Another option, when post-voluntary attention immediately turns on, is a person in anticipation of meeting friends whom he has not met for a long time. From the very beginning, he is interested in this meeting, he is tuned in to positive emotions, and in the process of communication he feels a solid positive.

Very often, post-voluntary attention turns on after voluntary attention. Let’s see how this happens with examples.

  • The child sits down to read some book, because it needs to be done, and he understands this. First, he turns on voluntary attention, tries to read thoughtfully. But at some time he gets carried away, he becomes interested. And he is already reading, not because it is necessary, but because he wants to know the further development of events and how it will all end. This has already turned on post-voluntary attention.
  • Or, let’s say, you need to learn something new for yourself. For example, English. At first, there is not much enthusiasm. You need to learn words, verbs, tenses, which seems very boring. But voluntary attention helps to cope. Then something starts to turn out, interest wakes up, I want to achieve more — post-voluntary attention appeared.


If you set a goal, you can observe both yourself and those around you, and clearly see how post-voluntary attention works, and how other types interact with it.

About post-voluntary attention, see the video.



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